cooking

teeter-totter

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It’s 7:30 p.m. and I am sitting in my car outside my gym after my work out, trying to decide if I can put off going to the store for one more day.

I talk myself into thinking I don’t need milk.

It’s almost 8 by the time I weave through traffic and climb the steep stairs to my house. It doesn’t take long to regret my decision.

I stare at my open cupboards. They are a smorgasbord of snacks: popcorn, chips, trail mix … marshmallows. It’s like storage space for an upcoming Girls Scouts camping trip. There is nothing in there of substance.

I squat in front of my fridge.

I really don’t want eggs again tonight, I think.

I stand up and survey my cupboards.

I squat and peer into my fridge.

This goes on for several rounds, as if I am on a teeter-totter by myself.

I do this little exercise more frequently than  I would like to admit. I don’t enjoy grocery shopping. And even when I do it I never know the right collection of items to buy for a week’s worth of full-course meals. That requires forethought and looking up recipes and, of course, money.

But this time, I can’t even eat cereal, the ultimate dinner cop-out, because I don’t have milk.

This is unglamorous side of living alone .

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cooking

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There’s an opened bottle of barbecue sauce abandoned on my counter. A cutting board with shards of broccoli spears scattered across it. The pan I cooked the chicken in looks like something died in it. But in a way, it kind of did.

They’re all remnants of my latest failed cooking experiment.

I’ve never been much of a cook, despite my mom’s attempts with a Cooking Light subscription to turn me into one (sorry mom). I survive on a steady diet of quesadillas, soup and cereal. I can make a good salad if I’m feeling ambitious.

I have a collection of recipes I break out now and then to wow people. Stuff like potato and chicken soup in a crock pot. Or a really lame version of chicken curry. Or  tortellini with cherry tomatoes, feta, spinach and sausage, which almost sounds reasonable.

I used to have a salmon recipe I cooked for a couple boyfriends in a row, but then someone called me out so I don’t cook it anymore.

It’s not that I don’t like cooking … well, it is. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could just leave once you took everything out of the fridge and come back to a steaming plate of food.

Or if it didn’t take more than four ingredients to make something good.  Grocery shopping is enough of a chore without having to hunt down things like bok choy or coriander. I don’t know what either of those looks like in real life. It took me a couple tries to spell coriander.

A couple weekends ago I made my roommate grill cheese and tomato soup. I burnt the tomato soup.

I confessed after we finished eating, hoping she wouldn’t notice if I didn’t point it out. “I was wondering why it tasted like bacon,” she said.

Tonight I made a pulled chicken sandwich with broccoli. I don’t know if that’s even something people make.

I might have over defrosted the hamburger bun. I doused my broccoli in parmesan cheese. I shook the barbecue sauce over the chicken like a kid with a bottle of  finger paint. By the time I mutilated the chicken with a fork, it was cold. I put it back on the stove, then flipped in onto the bun.

I almost burnt my tongue, which almost never happens thanks to a first-grade run in with a frosted electric pole.

All told, it took me about 12 minutes — roughly three minutes longer than my average dinner-preparation maximum.

Meh. I’m not sure those extra three minutes were worth it.

I turned to Glee, looking for a distraction.